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Ogre Battle 64 - Review
RPG Starved N64 Gets a Feast

By: Erik


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 9
   Interface 8
   Music/Sound 7
   Originality 9
   Plot 9
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 10
   Visuals 10
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete

40 - 60 hours

 
Overall
6
Criteria

Title Screen

   October was a great month for RPG fans, at least for Nintendo system owners.  The bomb-shell new Pokemon release and the hyped up release of the new Zelda game left perhaps the best release of the month on the back burner for most gamers on a budget; Ogre Battle 64.  Even I originally bought the game just for something to do between Pokemon battles, but it ended up taking up almost all of my time and effort.  Everything needed to make a great game is right here.  The graphics, music, effects, and of course, the story.  Continuing the story of the Ogre Battle right on your RPG starved Nintendo 64.

   The battle system is that great, one of a kind, Ogre Battle strategy game.  Basically you are in command of an army with different units.  You command these units to go any where on the map to achieve your goals.  Most often you must capture your opponent's base to be successful.  Strategy is the key as you need to place your units against your opponent's units.  The battles themselves occur when two units meet head-to-head.  There each army is not under direct control by you, but rather you give your units a strategy to work with and they attack based on that strategy, much the way real war-fare would be.  To win a battle your unit must do more total damage to the opposing unit then what they are dealt.  Strategy fans will eat up this difficult to master system while new players will easily be able to learn the ropes. 

   The problem most new gamers might have with this game is the menu system.  Although extremely well done, the average Final Fantasy RPGer will be over-whelmed with options and sub-menus galore.  The game does have a tutorial so that you can learn to play well, but it's long and tedious.  If you take the time to learn this menu system you will find that it allows you to customize your army to be whatever you want it to be.  

  The game moves at a fairly nice pace.  The plot develops nicely with fore-shadowing and plot twists that are sure to surprise you.  However some times your really not quite sure why your fighting your current enemy, it almost seems as if some battles were just tossed in for the sake of being in the game, slowing things down and may cause some players to lose sight of the plot.


Some things never change
Freeing towns is always enjoyable  

   The music is beautifully composed and really gives you the sense of war.  The music always reflects that general mood of the scene and allows the player to get even deeper into the already fantastic plot.  One down-side is the constant recycling of musical scores.  There isn't to much variety in there and often during battle scenes you may just pop in a CD instead of listening to the same music yet again.  The sound effects are well done, but again they repeat often as you units will enter battle ALLOT using the same moves resulting in the same effects.  Of course equipping different weapons or changing class will change the attack sound, you still do allot of fighting with those same sounds over and over again.

   If there is one thing that Ogre Battle is, it's original.  The way battles are done is pure innovation.  While it may be very similar to it's predecessors in the series it doesn't matter because Ogre Battle is the only place you'll find this high-addicting original form of war strategy game.  Strategy nuts will love this game and so will traditional RPGers out there.

   The plot of the game is un-matched by anything on the N64 and most other RPGs out there right now.  The story starts your character as a small time commander in an army and he evolves through-out the plot into a new person, learning for all his trials.  The supporting cast is done very, very well.  Every character has a unique and distinct personality that causes them to take actions that make sense.  No character does anything just "because".  The dialogue is what really makes this game work.  Each character has there own way of talking, which just adds so much.  Although slow moving at times, thanks to a few to many battles, the plot still keeps you beating each battle to find out what will happen next.  You can play this game for four or five hours straight and not get bored.

   One thing I'd like to add is that there was absolutely no censorship of this game when it came to the states.  The adult language allow some characters to really show their true colors, which otherwise could not be possible.  Although some times it seems the game goes out of it's way to use vulgarity, overall the mature nature of the game is done very nicely.


Everyone wants slaves!
'Cannon Fodder' is the name of the game  

   With multiple ends and numerous story lines this game is totally replayable.  As if the 40-60 hours per game wasn't long enough you can go back through again, doing things differently and getting a whole new story.  My roommate and I each started games and within 8 hours into the game we already had almost completely different plots.  You won't be getting rid of this game after you buy it, worth every penny.

The game looks amazing as well. It's a very visually appealing game.  The N64's superior graphics (well superior to PSX any way!) are well shown here.  There is not a better looking game on the system and aside from FMV on PSX games it's the best graphical RPG on the market right now (until Shen Mue!)

The game is generally easy to play.  If your not a veteran to the Ogre Battle type of game you may have a hard time at first, but the game is more story driven than anything else so the battles are completely beatable.  Although some players may see some difficulty in the later missions most will have a found a formula that allows them to easily win.


Strike them down with violent anger!
Those struck down get headaches  

As I mentioned earlier the game takes about 40-60 hours to complete the first time through.  Very few games can make a claim like that.  And it's replayability is just off the roof.  If your looking for something to keep you busy for a while Ogre Battle 64 is it.

The game is genius.  The innovative battle system, the deep plot, the massive amount of play time, the extraordinary graphics all add up to recipe for how to make a damn good game.  Don't even bother with a rental on this game, just buy and feel the love coming from your Fun Machine.







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